Sports

Hazen soccer forfeits games; playoffs in doubt

Ineligible player puts 2007 champs in a tough spot to make postseason

The 2007 3A state champion Hazen soccer team may not get a chance to defend the title after the team forfeited seven games for fielding an ineligible player.

The Hazen player in question turned 20 in December 2007 and Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules state a spring athlete can’t turn 20 before March 1 and maintain eligibility. The student’s name wasn’t released.

The forfeits change Hazen’s record from 7-3-1 in league play at the time to 3-8-1 currently. The Highlanders were in fourth place in the league and now sit in a tie for sixth place. The top four Seamount teams make the district playoffs.

The mistake appears to be clerical and happened during the early stages of the season when players are cleared for spring sports. Hazen coach Ritch Gouk said through an email, “I was told everyone was cleared and available.”

Gouk said the player wasn’t a starter and didn’t play many minutes but did make an appearance in every game through the April 15 game against Renton, except an April 1 2-1 loss to Highline.

Through Monday, it is still possible for Hazen to make the playoffs. If the team wins both remaining games (Tuesday against Evergreen, results not available, and May 2 against first-place Mount Rainier), while Lindbergh and Renton would each have to finish 1-1 or worse.

“It is a tough one for the boys/me to swallow since it was not our fault,” Gouk wrote in his e-mail.

The team previously forfeited a game this season against Kennedy when a player came into the game with only nine practices, instead of the required 10.

In the team’s most recent game, Hazen tied Highline 2-2 on April 25. Hazen took the early lead on goals by Juan Salas and Casey Shey, with an assist by Brady Guay. Highline’s Evan Richter then scored at the 36-minute mark and Mowlid Hersi brought the game to a tie at the 76-minute mark.

Simultaneously, the situation breathes new life into the seasons of Lindbergh and Renton. Both teams were out of playoff contention and are now fighting for the final spot. The Eagles and Indians met Tuesday night in a game that will go a long way in deciding which of the two teams make the playoffs.

Adam McFadden can be reached at amcfadden@reporternewspapers.com or 425-255-3484, ext. 5054.

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